Samsung and LG have been working on smartphones with flexible displays for years and rumor has it that they’re about to hit the streets. But it looks like they won’t be alone.

Evan Blass reports that LG will reveal its folding phone at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Ice Universe says there will be three foldable phones announced at CES and Mobile World Congress… and that doesn’t include Samsung, which is also expected to launch a folding phone sometime in 2019.

But a Chinese company called Royole appears to have beat them all to market. It just unveiled the FlexiPai — a smartphone that turns into a tablet when you unfold the 7.8 inch flexible AMOLED display.

The Royole FlexPai is also one of the first devices powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8150 processor.

When unfolded, the phone has a 4:3 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1920 x 1440 pixels. Folded in half, it actually has three display sections: primary, secondary, and edge, with the following specs:

  • Primary – 16:9 1440 x 810
  • Secondary – 18:9 1440 x 720
  • Edge – 21:6 1440 x 390

The device measures 7.5″ x 5.3″ x 0.3″ in tablet mode, and the Royole FlexPai weighs about 11.3 ounces. When you fold the 7.8 inch display in half, you get two smaller screens that are closer to 4.5 inches, and Royole says when the FlexPai is folded you can answer incoming phone calls using either screen.

The phone also has dual cameras, with a 16MP primary camera and a 20MP telephoto camera. It has a 3,800 mAh battery, a USB Type-C port, a microSD card slot and  dual SIM support.

Prices are expected to range from about $1,290 for a 6GB/128GB model to $1,860 for an 8GB/512GB version when the phone goes up for pre-sale November 1st.

While the Rouyu FlexPai certainly earns bragging rights as the first smartphone with a flexible display, it’s far from clear that this is a device you’d really want to spend $1300 or more on.

A few videos making the rounds show a device that looks rather chunky when folded, and which has a noticeable bend in the middle when unfolded. It doesn’t look like something that’s going to be easy to slide into a pocket or safe to throw in a bag with your keys.

On the bright side, like the Nubia X, the phone only needs a single set of cameras since you can use part of the display as a viewfinder whether you’re snapping a selfie or a standard shot.

via ithome, GSM Arena, and weibo (1) (2)

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14 replies on “Smartphones with folding screens are almost here”

  1. This will give the case manufactures a fit…if it ever actually sells in any quantity.

  2. Can someone give me an example of how this technology improves life or makes something better? I could see perhaps a commerce use, but it’s a bit of a jerk off game at this point. Everyone will join in. They aren’t sure why they are doing it, but it feels good regardless what others might think. I’m personally going to wait for the 3D comeback.

    1. It makes improvements to quality of life…. by making an Android Tablet become pocketable.
      Though its better for women with small handbags.
      Your “average” man prefers something like the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active… durability is a selling point.

      1. It’s always nice to see a company representative join the comment section.

  3. My concern with these has always been the durability . I don’t see how over time the fold in the middle will not crease, stretch etc.

    1. Well, in the video the screen looks all shiny, and when they do unfold it, it’s wrinkly too.
      If anyone does come up with a reason for the screen to fold like this, it looks like it will have some drawbacks.

      1. Yes it seems uneven and wavy when in tablet mode. Seems like this design requires there be extra slack for when it’s closed. It seems like the whole display is flexible, not just the hinge area. Maybe if a design was developed that only had flex in the hinge section it might work better.

        1. I’m thinking why not have the led part detached from one edge with sliding mechanism on the sides.

      1. I think Sean means closing it the other way with the screen inward. That would probably break it.

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